Nominated twice for the National Book Award, proposed as well for the 1973 Pulitzer Prize by the late Guy Davenport (juror with Edmund Fuller, Herman Kogan), a master of prose and a genius in his own right, Alexander Theroux has been highly praised by everyone from Saul Bellow to Cormac McCarthy, from Anthony Burgess to Robertson Davies, from Norman Mailer to John Updike, from Andrew Wyeth to Will Friedwald, from Jacques Pepin to Robert Crumb. Davenport fondly wrote of his subject, "As Nigel Nicolson wrote of James Pope Hennessy, I would say of Alexander Theroux - 'He dipped his fingers deep into the treasury of the language, dishing out strange words like rubies, and his sentences, paragraphs, chapters, finish, when another writer's might simply end.' No page of his does not blaze like jewels in Ali Baba's cave."
Alexander Theroux now comes to us in full flame with Later Stories, a collection of 13 new explosive narratives, only one which has been previously published, the third and last volume of this series, including Early Stories and Fables. His genius for plot, the power of his sparkling invention, the unsparing brilliance of his satire, the unforeseen twists and force of irony he wields, along with the astounding philosophical sense that inform his insights, are truly matchless. No scenario is predictable. Intrigue underpins the tale of an enigmatic Iraqi writer who is sought out with devastating consequences. We encounter an opinionated feminist poet from Maine, merciless in her impatience but eminently quotable. An operatic tenor in Italy faces down a waistline problem. A greedy diamond merchant flees Nazi-occupied France only to meet with grave consequences. Why in one story does a ballerina refuse to appear at curtain calls? What, in another, is the unforeseen and final turn of fate in the life of a young, seemingly unredeemable English thug? How do books and reading effect the life of young Filipina orphan brought to New Hampshire? We are presented a masterful college lecture on a French painter that amounts to a personal confession. We meet a group of seminarians who to pass the time seek a playful diversion. False piety figures in several tales with catastrophic results. And we are treated to a new saga of the Mayflower pilgrims.
With the turn of each page, we find again Theroux's love affair with language, his passion for the perfect phrase, a scholar's pressing need to inform.
As literary critic Larry McCaffery in "A Rose to Look At" in Some Other Frequency writes, "Of contemporary fiction writers, only Alexander Theroux comes close to [poet and novelist Robert] Kelly in terms of being able to articulate his concerns within the full range of words and storytelling skills available to writers."
About the Author
Alexander Theroux, who lives in West Barnstable, Massachusetts, has taught at Harvard, MIT, Yale, and the University of Virginia, where he took his doctorate in 1968. He is the author of four highly regarded novels, Three Wogs (1972), Darconville's Cat (1981), An Adultery (1987), and Laura Warholic (2007), as well as Collected Poems (2015) and other books of non-fiction.